Over the last three years Diamondback has been quietly working on a new trail bike platform called Release. The design is based on dual, counter-rotating short links in the same vein as the famous VPP suspension.
Diamondback calls its version Level Link because the lower link stays parallel to the chain (or level to the ground) as the rear axle moves through its travel. According to Diamondback, this prevents pedaling forces from interfering with bump absorption. At the sag point (about 30 to 35 percent) where most pedaling happens the upper link becomes perpendicular to the lower link to prevent pedaling bob without sacrificing trail bump sensitivity. Basically this means efficient pedaling, maximum traction on steep climbs and plushness on descents and technical sections.
According to Michael Brown, Diamondback’s VP of product development, the design was three years in the making and the company utilized feedback from team riders, most notably freerider Eric Porter, as well as hiring suspension designer Luther Beal to work specifically on this project. Brown was quick to add that this is the best trail bike Diamondback has ever made and is the first-ever patent pending suspension design in company history.
The Release is dubbed “party in the front, business in the back” because it has a 150 mm travel fork matched to 130 mm of rear travel. “The suspension is designed from the ground up to match 27.5 wheels and our new geometry with a 66 degree head angle and 425 mm chainstays,” Beal said. “We did not want to shoehorn [this geometry] into one of our existing suspension designs.”
The aluminum frame has an asymmetrical seat tube and swingarm along with Boost 12×148 spacing. More than just for stiffness, Beal said Boost allows for shorter chainstays, the ability to ride a wide tire and the option of adding a front derailleur and dual ring crank if you want—something many modern trail bikes can’t offer.
The wheelset is also Diamonback branded. Named the Blanchard, the wheels are asymmetrically laced and the rims have a wide 28 mm internal width as well as asymmetrical channels to help make tubeless tire mounting easier. The frame is also claimed to be a pound lighter than the 160 mm travel Mission.
Besides the $3,900 Release 3 (full specs below) there is also a Release 2 that will retail for $3,500 and a Release 3 for $2,500. Additionally, Level Link will be found on a 27plus model called the Catch (Catch and Release? We see what you did, there). Prices are $3,500 for the Catch 1 and $2,500 for the Catch 2.
Admittedly, my time on the Release 3 was very limited in the hills above Santa Barbara, California, but I did come away impressed with the bike’s overall ability. It climbed remarkably well in spite of its just-over-30-pound weight, part of that due not only to the suspension design but shorter travel.
I like the concept of shorter travel in the back mated to a long travel fork for an all-around trail bike that’s going to be pedaled up and around as much as it’s going to be thrashing its way downhill. The Release felt lively in tight singletrack and quick to change directions, though I did notice that the rear suspension felt a bit harsh on small stutter bumps. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a test bike soon so I can play around more with sag and overall set-up.
Initial impressions are still favorable. The Release is a fun trail bike that is quick on the draw and seems to be a solid contender in the trail bike mix. Also worth noting is that the both the Release and Catch come in at great price points—I would have never guessed that the Release 3 I was riding retails under four grand. That right there adds nicely to the value to performance ratio.
Diamondback Release 3 – $3,900
|Sizes||SM/15″ MD/17″ LG/19″ XL/21″|
|Frame||Release 27.5, 130mm, Level Link Suspension Platform. Hydroformed Tubing, ISCG-05, Boost 148x12mm Maxle Drop Out, Tapered Headtube|
|Fork||Rock Shox Pike RCT3, 150mm Travel, Rebound, Adjustable Compression Damping, 35mm Stanctions, Taper Steerer, 15mm Thru Axle|
|Rear Shock||Rock Shox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir, 200×57|
|Headset||FSA No-57E Taper 1.5 /1-1/8″ Standard Cups, Sealed Cartridge|
|Cranks||Raceface Turbine, 30T Narrow Wide Single Ring, Boost Compatible|
|Bottom Bracket||Raceface Outboard Bearing|
|R. Derailleur||SRAM X1 Type 2.1, 11 Speed|
|Shifter||SRAM X1 11spd (right only)|
|Cogset||SRAM XG 1150 (10-42)|
|Brakes||SRAM Guide RS, w/ 180mm Front/ 180mm Rear Centerline Rotors|
|Brake Levers||SRAM Guide RS Hydraulic Levers|
|Front Hub||32h Sealed Alloy Disc w/15mm Thru Axle|
|Rear Hub||32h, 148×12, Sealed Cartridge Bearing, XD Cassette Body w/ CNC Disc mount|
|Spokes||14g Stainless Steel|
|Rims||Diamondback Blanchard 28R, Tubeless Compatible|
|Tires||Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5×2.35″, Snake Skin, TSC|
|Handlebar||DB35, 780mm width, 15mm rise, 35mm bar bore|
|Grips||DB4L “Lock on” 135mm Kraton|
|Stem||DB35, 40mm length, 35mm barbore|
|Seatpost||KS LEV Integra Dropper w/SouthPaw Remote 31.6mm|
|Seat||WTB Volt Pro|
|Colors||Black & Red|
|Extras||Shock Pump, Tubeless Valves, Tubeless Rim Tape, Owner’s Manual, Chainstay Protector, H20 bottle mounts,|
We first spied this all-new creation from Diamondback back at Sea Otter—hell it was hard not to, considering its electric orange paint can be seen from space. Now it’s in our hands and ready for a long-term test ride.Tweet Print
Replacing both the Mission 26 and the Scapegoat, the new Mission 27.5 is aimed right at the heart of the enduro/all-mountain market with 160mm of travel front and rear and a next-generation Knucklebox suspension.Tweet Print
Editor’s note: Here at Dirt Rag we don’t really do “comparison tests” or “shootouts” or declare “winners”. Every bike we review has a story to tell, and they’re all interesting. That said, we rounded up six full-suspension trail bikes in the $2,500-ish range to see what’s really out there in the heart of the mountian bike market. To get the party started, we spent a week riding in and around the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Watch for full reviews of each bike, as well as more about the trails, in an upcoming issue, but for now, a teaser…
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